A gang of SWAT officers “terrorized” innocent children when they barged into a Chicago home during a predawn raid and shot an unarmed 12-year-old sitting in bed with his hands up, an Illinois mother’s lawsuit alleges.
In a complaint filed Thursday, Crystal Worship claims nearly two dozen Country Club Hills and Richton Park SWAT officers burst into her home on May 26 with automatic rifles and exploding flash grenades while executing a search warrant meant for her boyfriend. The pre-dawn raid ended with Worship’s son, Amir, being shot in the knee by a white police officer.
The young boy, who was sitting on the edge of his bed, shirtless, suffered a shattered kneecap after the bullet “entered his joint and partially exited the back of his leg on the right side,” according to the lawsuit.
“There’s a silent epidemic of trauma being perpetrated upon the children and families of color by Chicago and South Suburban police barreling into the wrong homes, handcuffing innocent adults, holding guns on children, handcuffing children, trashing their homes, refusing to show warrants and screaming dehumanizing commands,” Al Hofeld Jr., who’s representing the family, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit, The Daily Beast reported.
“Now, children are being shot in their beds,” Hofeld continued.
The complaint names the village of Richton Park, the city of County Club Hills and several police officers as defendants.
Worship is suing for alleged negligence, battery, willful and wanton conduct among other charges, after police dressed in “army fatigues with black cloth covering their faces and wearing goggles” stormed her home around 5 a.m as she and her three sons, aged 18, 13, and 12, were sleeping. The complaint alleges that officers “battered open the two entry doors and set off between two and five flash-bang grenades” while searching for Worship’s partner.
“The children were terrified they were about to be killed,” the lawsuit states, describing how officers entered the children’s rooms and barked “commands at them” while holding assault rifles.
One officer allegedly continued pointing his gun at Amir, who was still half- dressed and in bed. The officer asked the child his name, then “pulled him up and off of his bed and told him to sit on his brother’s bed … and to put a shirt on,” according to the suit.
A second officer entered the room moments later and instructed Amir to “put his shoes on” before snatching them out of his reach as the boy tried complying with his demands. The lawsuit says the officer then asked him which pair of shoes in the room were his and examined them with his flashlight.
As he was handing the shoe back to Amir and trying to tuck his flashlight back into his vest, the cop “quickly moved his right hand back to the handle and trigger of his rifle, grabbing it and firing it.”
Holfeld said Amir didn’t pose a threat, and there was no one else in the room who posed a threat, as the space had already been cleared.
“The [officer] should’ve put [his gun] in the safety position, so that it wouldn’t have discharged,” he told CBS Chicago.
After the boy was shot, the complaint claims the officer “covered his badge with black tape and covered his body camera.”
Amir screamed in pain, “Mom, they shot me,” prompting Worship to rush to the aid of her son. However, she said the officers restrained her by grabbing her by the neck. She continued pressing the cops about what had happened, and was allegedly told that they had “shot someone walking past outside” — not her son.
Amir was transported to the hospital after the shooting, which one of his brothers said he heard while being detained by an officer in another room in the home.
The boy’s injuries required surgery and left him hospitalized for four days. His family took him back after they say he “developed complications from infection,” which included a high fever and blurred vision.
“According to an orthopedic doctor, Amir will not be able to play any sports again, will have difficulty in physical education, will walk with a limp, and will have difficulty walking and running for the rest of his life,” the lawsuit states.
The family is now seeking $50,000 in damages.
The Country Club Hills Police Department declined to comment on the litigation.
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